In March 2020, we were contacted by a major UK-based contractor to review the masonry support designs at Fulham Riverside, a residential-led development on the North Bank of the Thames.
The team on site had noticed that the movement joint was being crushed, and brought us on as consultants to carry out a full review. Through our assessment, we found that the loads being experienced were significantly higher than had been allowed for, with loads in some areas as high as 35 kN, when as little as 11 kN had been expected.
In essence, the masonry support for the project had been under-designed. Crushing of the movement joint meant the masonry façade didn’t adequately allow for movement that would occur as a result of temperature and moisture content, a problem which could ultimately lead to the brickwork cracking. A thorough redesign was required and had to be turned around quickly, not only to ensure Fulham Riverside didn’t suffer serious consequences down the line but to avoid costly delays elsewhere on the site.
Despite being contacted initially as a consultant, we were brought on straightaway to restart the entire project. The existing masonry and support had to be stripped out and our own installed, and with the project falling significantly behind schedule as a result, everything – including the design work – had to be done at record pace, to help make up the time lost.
An additional layer of complexity presented itself during the process of having our designs approved. To avoid a repeat of the previous miscalculations, designs that would usually require only minor comments were being subjected to heightened levels of scrutiny. Ultimately, the system held up. Whereas most fully welded systems are rigid, ours was advantageous in that it’s fully adjustable, covering all site tolerances by offering vertical adjustment, lateral adjustment and horizontal adjustment. As a result, we could work at speed and operate with enough flexibility to complete the project on time.
In construction, efficiency is always of the essence. With this project, however, the pressure was immense. We were proud that our flexibility and determination meant we were able to deliver success – and lift the contractor from a challenging situation – at Fulham Riverside.